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Rosenworcel: FCC Doing More With Less Money Has Consequences

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel plans to tell the Senate Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee Wednesday that the FCC is proud of its ability to do more with less money, but that there are also consequences, including "reduced outreach, delayed decisionmaking, and fewer resources to address hard and persistent problems..."

All three FCC Commissioners are scheduled to testify at the hearing, where they will talk about/defend the FCC's budget.

Rosenworcel notes in her prepared testimony that the hearing comes on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, tying it to the need for communications. "The events of that day only deepened our commitment to what connects us as individuals and as a Nation, because that is what makes us strong. Communications networks make us strong."

The date has a personal meaning for her as well. She told the committee that one of her relatives-- a cousin, according to her aide--died in the Twin Towers.

Rosenworcel is the former top telecom aide to the Senate Commerce Committee, and was instrumental in the effort to create broadcast incentive auctions to fund an interoperable first responder network, which has been a priority of Commerce Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D--W. Va.) since 9/11 and the first responder communications problems on that day.

"Twelve years ago today, the lives of too many of our first responders--and those they sought to save--were put at risk by the absence of interoperable public safety communications," Rosenworcel told the subcommittee. "So we must remember in our spectrum auctions that we have promises to keep."

In addition to the spectrum auctions, Rosenworcel pointed to two other ways the FCC planned to earn its keep by strengthening communications in the coming fiscal year. Those are coming up with a new policy framework for IP networks--which she says should include location-specific IP transition trials (AT&T has pitched such trials)--and modernizing the E-Rate schools and libraries high-speed broadband subsidy program.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.